Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships

In honor of former RFF President Joseph L. Fisher, RFF awards academic fellowships in support of doctoral dissertation research on issues related to the environment, natural resources, or energy. Awardees will be invited to give a presentation of their research at RFF, for which RFF will pay reasonable travel expenses.

RFF’s primary research disciplines are economics and other social sciences, and proposals originating in these fields will have the greatest likelihood of success. Proposals from the physical or biological sciences must have an immediate and obvious link to environmental policy matters.

Read about the current and previous Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship awardees.


This fellowship supports graduate students in the final year of their dissertation research. Fellowship applicants for 2016–2017 must expect to complete all requirements for their doctorate by the end of summer 2017. Applicants must also have completed the preliminary examinations for their doctorate prior to the application deadline. This requirement will be strictly enforced.

The program is open to both US and non-US citizens, provided that the latter have proper work and residency documentation.


Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships last up to one year.


For the 2016–2017 academic year, the fellowships carry a stipend of $18,000, which is intended to be a student's principal source of support. The fellowship stipend will thus be reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of any financial assistance (other than tuition support) from other sources. However, the fellowship will still pay a minimum stipend of $2,000 to awardees whose stipends would otherwise be reduced below that amount.

All other financial assistance must be disclosed to RFF and it is expected that fellowship recipients will not engage in full-time employment during the period of fellowship tenure. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, most, if not all, of this stipend will likely be taxable income.

Application Materials

Individuals interested in applying should submit the following materials through RFF’s online application system:

Candidates should also submit the following by email to with the name of the applicant in the subject field:

Please note that RFF cannot provide written evaluations of proposals.

Application Deadline

All application materials must be received by February 19, 2016. The award will be announced in April.